If you want to portray the era of Reaganomics and “Greed is Good” for Halloween you have a number of options to consider; they range from the early 80’s Valley Girl look to the pretty boy Hair Metal band look that glossed the Sunset Strip during the late 80’s and a number of other looks in between.
For Valley Girls, tight jeans, leotards, or leopard print pants will do. High heels coupled with the leopard print pants or jeans that personify the Pat Benatar look that adorned the halls of high schools in the early 80’s will also help give you that 80’s ambiance. The aerobic look with a bathing suit over leotards with sweat bands around the wrists and ankles is also a totally 80’s look – think 1986 Sharon Stone. Watching Molly Ringwald movies is also a good way to get ideas about 80’s costume ideas for girls. Leotards with a frilly skirt and pink high tops will make it easy to achieve this look.
Make sure that the hair is jacked up and colored properly with do-it yourself die-job kits and properly solidified to the point of crustiness with Aqua Net Hair spray. The makeup should be bright, cheery, and help bring out the eyes. This is the happy, cheery “party all night” 80’s – Goths and alternatives need not apply. Go to YouTube and watch early 80’s videos of Cyndi Lauper to get the idea.
For guys, your choices of looks must be derived from one of the following: the feathered hair “jock” look; think most 80’s Tom Cruise films and also consider the T-shirt and jeans rebel look that can be modeled after Matt Dillon in The Outsiders. It might be a good idea to wear a tank top if you have a well muscled physique, and maybe smear some oil or grease on your shirt to make it look like you just got done working underneath your Trans Am with a boom box blasting Quiet Riot in the background. Put the grease in your hair and you might look like Johnny Depp in the popular 80’s show 21 Jump Street. For a jacket, consider a Levi’s jeans jacket ala Ralph Maccio.
The preppie look (i.e. Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day off), as is the Wall Street look with dress pants, shirt, tie and suspenders and slick backed hair ala Michael Douglas or Charlie Sheen in the aforementioned film are also good options. If you want to look cool and fashionable but not as buttoned up as Gordon Gecko, watch some Miami vice reruns and you’ll get the idea. I was a big fan of the Miami Voice colorful sport jackets in junior high.
The Terminator “I’ll be back” biker look will also fit you in just nicely if you have a leather jacket, black leather pants, and the leather fingerless gloves with spikes on them. If you can’t buy them anywhere, you can always steel them from some unsuspecting street punks telling you it’s a “nice day for a walk” – just kidding, unless you’re a couple cans short of a six pack.
Make sure you spike or feather your hair with plenty of mousse and don’t use it sparingly (80’s was the decade of decadence and excess). If you’re reasonably thin you might even be able to get away with some Eddie Van Halen Spandex and Poison “poofy” hair. If you’re not into the “poser” hair metal bands of the 80’s, some Aerosmith era ripped jeans might be a more appropriate motif.
If you don’t own a Delorian and aren’t an understudy of Christopher’s Lloyd’s mad scientist character from 1984’s Back to The Future, you won’t be able to travel back in time to a 1987 Gap, so you may to have to shop second hand stories, EBay, or find other on-line stores to get the necessary gloss, duds, eye shadow, “Member’s Only” jackets, wristbands, leather cutoffs and jelly bracelets. You could just go to online stores like Shopzilla.com and Yahoo shopping, go to their clothing section, and shop for 80’s party clothes. Value Village usually sells a last minute 80’s hair metal costume kit if you’re short on time.
Just remember to at least watch enough 80’s films such as Weird Science, anything with Corey Feldman, Nicolas Cage in Valley Girl, or Fast Times at Ridgemont High to get the lingo down. Just remember to repeat phrases such as “man”, “radical”, “totally awesome” and “grodey” (for gross) as much as the situation allows.